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11 MAR 2019 (MON) 11:00-12:00

Assessing the ecosystem services provided by urban green infrastructures by combining remote sensing and social data

Map Library, Room 10.10, 10/F, The Jockey Club Tower, Centennial Campus, The University of Hong Kong

Dr Raffaele Lafortezza Department of Geography, The University of Hong Kong

About the Speaker:

Dr. Lafortezza’s research interests are interdisciplinary in nature and relate to the assessment of driving forces, interactions, and feedback mechanisms underlying ecosystem dynamics at multiple spatial and temporal scales. The overarching goal of his research is to provide natural resource managers and decision makers with geospatial knowledge, tools and indicators that would enable them to become better stewards of healthy and sustainable ecosystems. Solutions to real-world problems require an understanding of complex ecological patterns and processes, which are typically multidimensional and exist at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Dealing with such structured and multi-scaled issues implies the use of quantitative and interdisciplinary approaches. Consequently, his research increasingly involves the development and use of remote sensing tools, including satellite images and laser scanning data (LiDAR), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), multivariate statistical techniques and process-based models accounting for uncertainty (e.g., Hierarchical Bayesian models), and working in a multi-disciplinary setting.

During the past 17 years, he has acquired considerable knowledge and experience in global change issues, including biogeography, by coordinating a wide range of large-scale projects funded by various organizations worldwide. He has authored and co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, including two books on landscape ecology and GIS modelling: “Patterns and Processes in Forest Landscapes” (Springer, 2008) and “Landscape Ecology in Forest Management and Conservation” (HEP & Springer, 2010). He is Associate Editor of the following scientific journals: “Urban Forestry & Urban Greening” (Elsevier), “Landscape Ecology” (Springer), and Ecological Processes (Springer).


In recent decades, it has become increasingly clear that the services provided by various types of ecosystems are essential for people living in large urban systems. High volumes of traffic and noise, atmospheric pollution, and excess of built-up areas are placing mounting pressures on a range of ecosystem services (ESS) such as (micro)climate regulation, carbon sequestration, air and water filtering, stormwater flood protection within the four main categories of provisioning, regulating, cultural, and supporting services. Moreover, there is a consensus sustained by an emerging body of literature on the key role of green infrastructures in mitigating these human-driven pressures and promoting a better quality of life. Through the provision of ESS, green infrastructures provide multiple benefits for urban dwellers making cities more resilient to climate change by enhancing, for example, the degree of shading, evaporative cooling, rainwater interception and storage and filtration functions.

Starting from the ESS theory, Dr. Lafortezza will illustrate an approach to assess the benefits provided by green infrastructures through the integration of social data with remotely sensed data, such as high-resolution satellite images and Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) point-cloud. He will introduce a spatially explicit indicator (or metric) called Normalized Difference Green-Building Volume (NDGB), derived from remote sensing, that can be used to predict the way people perceive the benefits (ESS) conveyed by green infrastructures. The NDGB indicator accurately expresses the relationship between people’s perceptions of ESS provided by green infrastructures and the physical data (e.g., canopy cover, vegetation structure, proximity to built-up areas) produced by remote sensing technology. This approach can inform planners and decision makers on ESS supply and provide them with evidence of the local co-benefits of green infrastructures as well as of the spatial distribution of ESS across urban geographical regions.


Places are limited & prior registration is encouraged.



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